What Scares Us the Most About Pet Suffocation
Even amid truly heartbreaking stories of people who lost their pets to suffocation, the most alarming finding from our survey is how few people are aware of this common household danger.
73% of people who lost or almost lost a pet to suffocation were unaware of or had never realized the possibility that their pet could suffocate in a chip, snack, cereal, or other food bag until it happened!
That’s 7 out of every 10 cases where a lack of prior awareness contributed to the loss, or near loss, of a pet’s life! That's crushing, but it's also an opportunity! It means we can dramatically lower the danger and save thousands of pets’ lives by raising awareness.
The Biggest Suffocation Hazards to Pets
- Snack (e.g., crackers, popcorn, etc.) or chip bags (68%)
- Cereal bags (6%)
- Pet Food bags (6%)
- Pet Treat bags (5%)
Other common suffocation hazards included bread bags, cheese bags, and hard plastic and cardboard containers.
Where Pets are Finding These Bags
- In or near the home trash can or recycling (24%)
- Grabbed off a coffee table or side table (20%)
- Grabbed off a counter (15%)
- Outside, in the yard (5%)
Other bags were even found in the car or under a bed. Check out this free poster download to learn more about the journey of a chip bag.
How You Can Help Make a Difference
- Take a moment to read the stories people have shared with us below
- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share the graphics, stories, and images about Pet Suffocation Awareness.
- Take a moment to sign (and share) Prevent Pet Suffocation’s org petition to get awareness and warnings on bags.
- If you’ve had the misfortune of losing or almost losing a pet to suffocation, or if you know someone who has, we hope you’ll share the story in the comments section below and take a few minutes to complete our brief pet suffocation survey and help us develop the body of knowledge about pet suffocation.
- If you are a journalist, please consider writing or producing an article or news segment about pet suffocation. We would be happy to put you in touch with people who have agreed to share their stories and pictures. Please contact us if you would like help with a story on this hugely important topic.
How Pet Suffocation Happens
Many people don't realize that a pet, no matter its size or strength, can have a hard time getting bags off its head once they are stuck. Not only do cats and dogs lack thumbs to help them grab and remove the bag, but the bags quickly form a vacuum-like seal around their head as they breathe in and quickly deplete the air within the bag (see the demonstration below). As this happens, the oxygen levels quickly decline, and the carbon dioxide levels quickly rise. The entrapped pet panics from not being able to breathe normally and eventually dies from asphyxiation. These pets are often found in a very horrifying manner that haunts the families for life.
With increased awareness and an even better understanding of how, where, and when these preventable tragedies are happening we can start to reverse the trend and help bring about a day when no pets — or wildlife — lose their lives to suffocation in chip, snack, bread, cereal, pet food, and other bags. Thank you for taking a few minutes to learn about and spread awareness of the heartbreaking tragedy that is pet suffocation.
Some of the Pets Who've Left Us
A very special thank you to Bonnie Harlan, who first raised the alarm bells of pet suffocation by starting the Prevent Pet Suffocation Facebook page after losing her own dog, Blue (story shared below), to suffocation in a chip bag in December 2011. Thanks as well to the people and families who have completed our survey and had the strength to share their personal experiences with pet suffocation. Your losses will not be in vain, and your efforts are already helping to protect others.
Be well and be safe, everyone!
"If it weren't for that seemingly harmless potato chip bag, Loki would still be here." — RIP Loki
"During the Chetek tornado of 2017, little Loki was born. After this lucky start to life, Loki went to live in southern Wisconsin where he spent most of his days at Slewfoot Signs. He became the shop dog and brought joy to anyone who stopped by. Everyone ended up loving that happy-go-lucky pup.
When he wasn't at work, Loki did some of his other favorite activities. This included running through the woods, playing in the park, and chasing cats.
On May 6th of 2018, a few days before his first birthday, Loki's natural curiosity got the better of him. While running outside, he found a potato chip bag and put his head in to get the last crumbs. Unfortunately, the bag stuck just right and poor Loki couldn't get it off. If it weren't for that seemingly harmless potato chip bag, Loki would still be here. So now Loki wants to make sure all the other animals in the world do not get hurt. He hopes when you see a piece of trash outside, you think of his story. "Pick up that litter," says Loki. Properly disposing of that one little piece could save a life.
— Jeff H.
"You were the best boy in the whole world." — RIP Petey
"I kissed my baby boy goodbye on my way out for work. But I had no idea it would be for the last time. Although I still can’t even wrap my head around what happened ... we have an obligation to share what happened to Petey to hopefully prevent it from happening to any of your babies. ... Christian beat me home from work by about 10 min & was surprised when Petey didn’t greet him at the door like usual.
As he walked in further he saw our sweet boy laying lifeless with a stupid chip bag over his head. He was able to get them off the counter that we will forever blame ourselves for leaving out. He ate every chip out but of course went back for crumbs... with there being nothing left inside every time he would go for more he would inhale making the bag tighter & tighter around his head.. ultimately resulting in suffocation.
Petey was SMART so I didn’t understand why he couldn’t get it off with his paws. ... With this happening so often we were so surprised by the lack of awareness on this topic out there. Especially bc I was a very overprotective dog mama. ... So I just ask that in honor of my boy Petey that you be extra careful, warn other dog owners & give your fur babies some extra love today and everyday after this.
I pray none of you ever have to experience your heart breaking this way. We love you papas you were the best boy in the whole world & we will remember our good times forever 🐶😇"
— Christina Y.